CHAPTER NOTES - CHAPTERS 31 & 32
Happy Halloween! If there were 32 days in October, I would have broke this into two notes. Instead I’m combining them.
Chapter 31 is the climax of the book. It’s where the obstacles are huge and it appears as if the main protagonists won’t make it. I start things rolling with Valek and Yelena joining up with Ari and Janco. They refused to help search for Valek and Yelena. I like this exchange:
“That’s insubordination.” Valek extracted a long knife and some darts from his bag.
“That was the point. What’s a fellow have to do around here in order to get arrested and thrown in the dungeon?” Janco asked.
It’s nice to see how Ari and Janco are “all in” for their friends and are willing to be thrown into the dungeon to help them out. And later they call her “sir.” A few people have asked why I don’t use the female equivalent of “sir,” which is “ma’am.” I don’t like ma’am – never did – and in my mind, “sir” is gender neutral and the Commander would approve using it universally. A few other authors have also adopted this and I’ve read it in a couple other books. AND on the TV show Castle (of which I’m a big fan – my favorite quote: Don’t ruin my story with your logic!) Captain Gates (a woman) insists her detectives call her “sir.” I started a trend!
When Irys arrives, the gang is all there and Yelena has a plan to free the Commander and capture the bad guys. While Ari and Janco take Irys to Mogkan’s power circle, Valek and Yelena try to free the Commander.
Yelena’s fight with Mogkan and Brazell is the big battle for her. She is able to sow a little dissension between them. Remember that Mogkan poisoned the cognac during the Sitians’ visit? Not much was said about it after that…no time really, but it was important and I used it at just the right moment!
Her journey as a character also culminates – not after she found and beat Brazell, but when she faces Reyad’s ghost. This will take more than a physical fight, but a mental one. She spots her reflection and sees that, “The shadows of doubt were gone.” And she realizes that she hasn’t lost her soul, that it has always been there, locked away and she needed to free it. She orders Reyad to “Be gone.” He vanishes. This is her very first act as a Soulfinder, she sends him to the fire world without realizing that is what she has done. I, too didn’t know the significance of this act until I was writing Magic Study.
But all is not well, Janco’s hurt and Valek is human after all. After battling so many opponents after a couple days without food or sleep and having to push against Mogkan’s magic, Valek has reached the end of his endurance. Fortunately Yelena’s link with Irys come in handy and she helps immobilize Mogkan so Valek can slit his throat. I love when Valek gives her the bloody knife and says, “My love, for you.”
Chapter 32 is what’s known as the “the marryin’ and the buryin’” chapter – where every thing is wrapped up, explained, and readers learn who lives and gets together, and who dies. In this case, it’s looking grim for both Janco and the Commander. Janco due to his injuries and the Commander’s soul has fled.
Yelena does retrieve the Commander’s soul – another aspect of her Soulfinding abilities. And then there’s more explanations.
When I wrote the first draft, I had a different ending. I had the Commander plan to exile Yelena to Sitia, but she wants to stay. So she challenges Valek to a fight. If she wins, she earns the right to be his second-in-command. Ah – so that’s why I made a point to explain to the readers about Valek’s challenge. ;)
So I write this beautiful fight scene between the two of them. It spans pages and in the end Yelena wins and earns her place in Ixia. The End! Yay!! Balloons fall from the ceiling and confetti shoots into the air (well that’s how it felt!). In my mind, Poison Study was a stand alone novel – once and done – happy ending with Yelena earning exactly what she wanted…freedom and something extra…love.
However, when my husband (a.k.a. Mr. Logical), read the book, he didn’t “buy” the ending. He said, “She’s injured and still manages to beat the best fighter in Ixia? Nope, I’m not buying it.” Shoot! Now what do I do? I decided that the Commander would exile Yelena to Sitia and that even though she was separated from Valek and the others I’d end the book with the promise that they would be together someday.
When Poison Study was bought by my publisher, they were so excited and wanted to give me a two book contract, because I had a second book…right? Uh…sure! When did they need this second book? I hoped it wasn’t soon. Thankfully things move slow in publishing and I had 18 months to write that and revise Poison Study.
However, my editor wanted a stronger ending, something that would not only tie-up the events of Poison Study, but give the readers a reason to rush out and buy book 2 (a.k.a. Magic Study).
So I added in hits of what might come in the next book. Irys explains that the children in Brazell’s orphanage had been kidnapped from Sitia because they had the potential to develop magical abilities. Mogkan mentioned that Yelena is part of the Zaltana clan and Irys laughs. “My goodness, you’re in for a real surprise if you’re part of the Zaltana clan. That would explain why you alone didn’t cave in under Mogkan’s spell.”
Instead of exiling Yelena, the Commander signs an order for her execution. This adds more conflict and tension. He tries to hand the order to Valek, but Valek won’t take it. But will Valek disobey a verbal order? No, his loyalty to the Commander is absolute. Of course he says it will be his last task – if he had to kill Yelena he would kill himself soon after. The tension is dissipated as the Commander decides to find another person to carry out the order. Whew!
Now Yelena leaves for Sitia with a sense of danger/emergency—an assassin might be after her (and one does go after her – you can read it here: http://www.harlequin.com/articlepage.html?articleId=1257&chapter=1).
Before she leaves, she says her good-byes to Ari and Janco. Ari wants to go with her and protect her and Janco pouts about her leaving. She quotes what the switchblade symbols mean: “Whatever happened to ‘Sieges weathered, fight together, friend forever?” Janco’s eyes lit up. “You little fox. Figured it out already, have you?” That switchblade quote is another reader favorite. It was even made into a design and put on T-shirts. And a couple readers have tattooed the quote on their skin (and in one case, has tattooed the symbols on her skin).
At the very end Valek meets up with her on the road. She asks him to come with her, but he declines and says, “…you need to spread your wings and see how far you can fly.” This is another reference to her transformation from caterpillar into a butterfly and if you remember how I wanted the cover to have her spreading her arms with scarlet fabric billowing out – I thought this would be another nice image to match my ideal cover!
Question 31 - In Halloween Men, which day are the citizens allowed to take off their masks in public?
Here’s the link to the Rafflecopter so you can enter all your answers!!
I hope you enjoyed reading these behind-the-scenes look at all the chapters of Poison Study!